Smooth Muscle Histology

From Embryology


This page describes smooth muscle histology. Development of smooth muscle, skeletal muscle and cardiac muscle can be found in other notes.

  • Smooth muscle is mesoderm in origin and contributes to many different tissues including the muscular wall of the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, artery walls, bladder wall, uterus, seminiferous tubules and ductus deferens.
  • Smooth muscle is non-striated in appearance, lacking the regular organisation of sarcomeres seen in skeletal and cardiac muscle.

Histology Links: Skeletal Muscle | Cardiac Muscle | Smooth Muscle
Smooth Muscle Links: Smooth Muscle Development | Smooth Muscle Histology | Blood Vessel | Uterus | Urinary Bladder | Mesoderm

Gastrointestinal Tract Wall

The gastrointestinal tract consists of two thick outer muscle layers (longitudinal and circular) and a thin muscularis mucosa layer.

Smooth muscle histology 001.jpg Smooth muscle histology 002.jpg

Links: Colon Histology | Gastrointestinal Tract Development

Neural Innervation

  • 1857 Meissner was the first to describe a nerve plexus in the submucosa of the bowel wall.
  • 1864 Auerbach described the myenteric plexus between the longitudinal and circular muscle layers.
  • 1981 LeDouarin describes neural crest contribution to both plexuses.

Myenteric Plexus

  • Peristalsis
  • Coordinated waves of descending inhibition followed by waves of descending excitation
+ Extrinsic parasympathetic cholinergic nerves (vagal and sacral) excite peristalsis and stimulate
- Sympathetic noradrenergic nerves inhibit the transit of gut contents

Submucosal Plexus

  • Secretion and Absorption

Histology Images

Smooth Muscle Histology: Labeled Colon low | Labeled Colon high | Colon x40 | Colon x40 | Ileum x10 | Oesophagus x10 | Seminiferous tubule x40 | Uterus myometrium x10 | Uterus myometrium x40 |


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Search Pubmed: Smooth Muscle Development

Additional Images


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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, March 5) Embryology Smooth Muscle Histology. Retrieved from

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© Dr Mark Hill 2024, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G